The Revolution Has A Name: Nintendo Wii

Console's new name, pronounced 'we,' causes a firestorm of online bashing.

The Revolution is over. Make way for the Wii. And pronounce it “we.”

That’s the official name Nintendo announced Thursday (April 27) for its next home console, formerly code-named Revolution.

The company released a promotional video and statement to explain the somewhat unexpected name.

“While the code name ‘Revolution’ expressed our direction, Wii represents the answer,” the statement read. ” ‘What does the name mean?’ Wii sounds like ‘we,’ which emphasizes this console is for everyone. Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii.”

Nintendo’s stark, smooth hardware designs for Wii and the big-in-Japan Nintendo DS Lite have been compared to Apple’s iBook and iPod. Now the spelling of its new console’s name will invite similar comparisons. Nintendo said the lowercase I’s “symbolize both the unique controllers and the image of people gathering to play.”

Under the name Revolution, the Nintendo console and its unusual motion-sensitive remote-control-shaped controller generated months of hype. But at NeoGAF.com, a Web site where the hardest of hard-core gamers hang out, the initial reaction to “Wii” tipped to the negative. “I don’t get it,” wrote a gamer calling himself Speevy. “Months of positive hype, a genuine competitive advantage, and they named the thing Wii? If consumers don’t even want to say the name of the product, they’re not going to buy it.”

Another poster named Sho Nuff wrote, “I’m actually laughing out loud thinking of ‘wee’ jokes. … There is no way they can release a console with that name in Britain.” According to a Nintendo spokesperson, the Wii name will be used worldwide.

What does Nintendo have to say to the naysayers? “We believe people will move past that issue,” said Perrin Kaplan, president of marketing and corporate affairs at Nintendo. “Many top companies have successfully used names or phrases that might seem odd at first blush: Virgin for an airline, Caterpillar for construction equipment, Yahoo! for Internet services, Naked for juice, Prius for a car, Napster for a Web site.”

There has been an occasional positive comment about the name. A NeoGAF poster named SuperPac wrote, “I like it. It’s not the name of a game system. It’s an iconic name like iPod. The more I think about it, the more I think this is the right choice.”

Nintendo successfully weathered an earlier storm of skepticism in September when the Wii’s controller was first shown to the public. That device eventually won gamers over.

Among Web-posting gamers, Nintendo had been generating a flow of mostly positive hype heading into next month’s E3, where the first playable Wii games are expected to be released. While Nintendo’s previous console, the GameCube, had long suffered a drought of non-Nintendo-made games, the last few weeks have been filled with near-daily announcements of Wii support from third-party developers. Announcements have included special versions of “Madden,” “Super Monkey Ball” and “Tony Hawk” tailored for the Wii, along with exclusive games for the system from Konami and Ubisoft. Nintendo has yet to reveal what games the company is developing for the system.

A Nintendo spokesperson confirmed that the new name will be the biggest announcement made about the system before the company’s pre-E3 press briefing May 9. An actual street date and price may not be announced until the fall, when the machine is expected to be released.